For many people in “the garden state,” summer is synonymous with two words: Jersey Shore. And, while hot sand and the cool ocean are luxuries for New Jersey natives, they should not be taken for granted. So, when you’re sick of trying to find parking at the beach, try out these five new places to shake things up a bit.
1. Pine Creek Mini Golf, Ringoes, New Jersey
Mini-golfing is a go to summer activity, but this course in Ringoes, New Jersey will beat any other amateur green you’ve tried to tackle. Pine Creek offers two courses: a beginner and intermediary level. Both are surrounded by nature including overshadowing trees, vibrant butterfly bushes, and luscious flowers at every corner.
If you choose to play the intermediary course, halfway through your eighteen holes you’ll come across a quaint pond with a waterwheel worth a quick snapshot. On a lucky day, you may even see a white swan gliding across the pond. (Fun fact: the owners have two that they take care of and brag about). No matter what, you’ll always see a plethora of multicolored golf balls stuck in places that only misguided swings could have produced.
2. Minnewaska State Park, Kerhonskon, New York
If you’ve exhausted every nearby park or hiking trail in your neighborhood, why not step it up and try something a little more intense? Minnewaska State Park in New York is just the place to do so. There are a variety of nature trails and an approximate seven-mile loop that includes a waterfall, lake, and gorgeous overlook of the Shawangunk Mountains. Yes, this uphill and curvy hike gets tiring after a while, but the nature along the way is absolutely worth the sweat and twenty water bottles you’ll chug once you get back to the car.
3. Empire Rooms, Fairfield, New Jersey
If you’ve never heard of an escape room be prepared for either the greatest or most frustrating hour of your life. This popular trend is where a group of two or more people are purposefully locked in a room with a particular theme. The team has an hour to use clues provided in the room in an attempt to successfully unlock the final door that leads to their escape. It might sound ridiculous or crazy but some of these rooms get really creative.
Empire Rooms in Fairfield, New Jersey has an Alice in Wonderland theme which is sure to make your head spin quite literally and figuratively. This is the perfect way to spend a rainy summer day, but be cautious because some of these escape rooms can cost anywhere from ten dollars to thirty dollars per person. Always check coupon websites like Groupon before booking any room because they often have deals on a percentage off. And, if you think an hour is a long time, think again.
4. The Landing, New Hope, Pennsylvania
Located five minutes from the border of New Jersey in a cute town called New Hope, The Landing is a restaurant that literally overlooks the Delaware river. With a quick glance, the outside of this restaurant does not look impressive. However, follow the stone pathway to the back and immerse yourself in a different world.
The entire patio is decorated with tables, umbrellas and people admiring their food as well as the families simultaneously tubing down the river. On a summer afternoon, you can’t beat the ambience of being outside and the occasional breeze that glides over the water. The menu has something for everybody, but if you want something unique, try the ham and brie melt with no questions asked.
5. Holsten’s Brookdale Confectionary, Bloomfield, New Jersey
What’s better than homemade ice cream? Homemade ice cream AND chocolate. Holsten’s in Bloomfield, New Jersey has been around for over seventy-five years and if you take a step inside it’s as if you’re transported to a different time period. The old-fashioned woodwork and long counter complete with red velvet barstools makes this location an experience compared to your average Carvel run.
Order two scoops of the classics like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry, try one of their fantastic malt milkshakes, or mix it up with a soda float. Whatever you end up deciding on, you won’t be disappointed because their ice cream is rich with flavor. Watch the ice cream scoopers pass back and forth behind the counter, because this place is always full of life. When you’re finished with your dessert why not have another with a piece of homemade fudge or nonpareils (little chocolate drops covered in round sprinkles).